Top Ten Trends for 2024 for Small Businesses

Envision the future business landscape as a dynamic tableau pulsating with the vibrant hues of technology, entrepreneurship, and adaptability. The International Council for Small Business (ICSB) cordially invites you to embark on an exhilarating exploration into the realm of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) worldwide in 2024.



Our expedition is not a mere conjecture but is firmly rooted in rigorous analysis and forecasting. We are devoted to unraveling the complex patterns of the global business ecosystem. Our unique strength lies in the active involvement of our dedicated members and board members, who generously contribute their insights and expertise. They are the master weavers of this vibrant tapestry, enriching our comprehensive understanding of the business landscape.



Our two flagship journals are pivotal in unveiling trends based on the research submitted and consumed within our community. These insights become the threads we intertwine into our understanding, enabling us to engage with partners, including major multinational organizations. Through this collective endeavor, we glean profound insights into the trends that will sculpt the business world in the forthcoming years.



As a vanguard in global entrepreneurship research and practice, ICSB is delighted to present our annual publication, ‘Top Ten Trends for MSMEs in 2024.’ This compilation spins an intriguing narrative around enduring principles and innovative ideas shaping the entrepreneurial journey in the upcoming year. Each trend represents a valuable nugget of knowledge meticulously curated by our team.



So, what is the Number One trend for MSMEs in 2024? ICSB reveals:



Number One Trend for 2024: MSMEs Forming Collaborative Alliances.



The paramount trend for 2024 redefines the landscape of MSMEs, highlighting the formation of Collaborative Alliances—an age-old concept rejuvenated with fresh vitality. It emerges as the #1 Trend for MSMEs, offering a transformative path forward for several compelling reasons. Businesses acknowledge the undeniable strength of unity in an era marked by economic uncertainties and disruptions. Like a multitude of Davids facing Goliath-sized challenges, MSMEs are now banding together, pooling their resources, expertise, and market insights to form a formidable force. This collective strength enables them to negotiate better terms, penetrate untapped markets, and weather market fluctuations with greater resilience than they could achieve as standalone entities.



Collaborative Alliances transcend mere resource consolidation; they foster a culture of innovation and cross-pollination of ideas. Within these alliances, members bring complementary expertise to the table, sparking collective problem-solving and a relentless pursuit of improvement. This collaborative ethos not only optimizes resource allocation and reduces operational costs but also bolsters the individual resilience of businesses in the face of unpredictable challenges. These alliances wield substantial influence by uniting their voices in advocacy for favorable policies and regulations, actively molding the business environment to serve their collective interests.



In essence, Collaborative Alliances symbolize the evolution of MSMEs, empowering them to thrive, innovate, and navigate the complexities of today’s dynamic business world with the strength derived from unity.


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End of Year Message from ICSB President & CEO – Dr. Ayman ElTarabishy

Dear Esteemed Members and Supporters of ICSB

As we approach the close of an eventful year, I am delighted to share with you the profound journey that the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) has undertaken throughout 2023. This year has been exceptional, marking one of our organization’s most dynamic and impactful periods over the past five years. I’m excited to elaborate on the remarkable accomplishments that have defined our path.


    • ICSB Congress: A Triple Triumph
      For the very first time, we orchestrated the ICSB Congress across three diverse cities in South Korea – Seoul, Jinju City, and Gwangju. This pioneering approach showcased our adaptability and exemplified our commitment to innovation and our dedication to meeting the ever-evolving expectations of our esteemed members. It was a resounding success, demonstrating our ability to unite our global community in novel and engaging ways. A special thanks goes to our Chair, Dr. KiChan Kim, for leading the ICSB World Congress in S. Korea.
    • UN MSMEs Day: A Global Phenomenon
      The UN MSMEs Day, an initiative birthed by ICSB in collaboration with Argentina, has transcended borders to become a global phenomenon. Witnessing the widespread recognition and adoption of this critical day is incredibly heartening. Organizations like the OECD now hold events on June 27th, aligning with our vision of celebrating and supporting Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) worldwide.
    • Pushing Boundaries and Shaping Discourse
      ICSB has consistently led by pushing the boundaries of convention and championing ideas that may have been met with skepticism initially. The creation of MSMEs Day is a prime example. This year, our MSMEs Day theme of “Empowering Women and Youth in MSMEs,” despite initial skepticism, gained profound relevance and resonance following Claudia Goldin’s Nobel Prize recognition for her groundbreaking research on gender income disparities. We continue to set the agenda and redefine the narrative.
    • Azerbaijan: A Visionary Choice
      ICSB’s selection of Azerbaijan as the host for our SME World Forum was a decision that may have raised eyebrows initially but has proved visionary. The subsequent selection of Azerbaijan to host Cop 29 is not a mere coincidence; it reflects the nation’s spirit of innovation and forward-thinking. ICSB recognized this potential as early as 2021, and our choice has been validated. ICSB thanks our partner, KOBIA, for delivering an exceptional event.
    • Research Excellence and Impact
      Under the guidance of Drs. Eric Liguori, Katia Passerini, Jeff Alves, and me, our research endeavors have reached new heights. Our flagship journals (JSBM and JICSB) have enjoyed a banner year on multiple evaluation metrics. ICSB’s latest journal, JICSB, was included in the Web of Science Emerging Sources Citation Index. This marks a significant milestone, and this achievement will undoubtedly enhance the overall impact of our research efforts.
    • Impactful Research for Communities
      Our commitment to impactful research extends to community engagement. Our study on the origins of Korean Entrepreneurship is making a tangible difference in Jinju City, benefitting local MSMEs and the youth. We are also embarking on unique research ventures, such as exploring the intersection of entrepreneurship and religion. These topics, though unconventional, align with our tradition of pioneering initiatives that create meaningful change.
    • Lemonade Day: A New Signature Initiative
      The ICSB International Office Team, led by Skye Blanks, Ana Bradic, and Kyle Lyon, has unveiled a groundbreaking initiative, Lemonade Day, as part of the ICSB Youth Initiative. This promising endeavor has the potential to become one of ICSB’s most crucial signature products in the next two years, empowering youth and nurturing entrepreneurship. Watch for this! 
    • Engaged Past Chairs and Board Members
      Our immediate past chairs, Dr. Winslow and Mr. Ahmed Osman, have been tireless advocates for ICSB. Their representation at the 2nd Annual Arab SMEs Forum in Marrakesh, Morocco, has yielded positive impacts, and we eagerly anticipate further collaborations. Additionally, our esteemed board members, including Analia Pastran, Norris Krugger, Zakara Taib, and Rita Grant, have been at the forefront of essential initiatives, ensuring that ICSB remains at the cutting edge of entrepreneurship.
    • A Year of Exciting Prospects
      Looking ahead to 2024, our calendar is filled with exciting events. We are returning to Europe to host our 68th World Congress in Berlin, Germany, under the theme “Empowering Entrepreneurship for a Better Future.” Dr. Hartmut Mayer, ICSB Board Member and co-chair of the ICSB Congress in Berlin has assembled an expansive partnership group, setting the stage for a groundbreaking event.
  •        Africa – Our long-awaited Initiative
  •        Expanding our footprint in Africa is not just a professional goal; it’s a personal one.      
  •        Africa has long been my focus because of its immense potential and vibrant 
  •        entrepreneurial  spirit. In March, we will reveal a sustainable plan for ICSB’s 
  •         engagement in Africa, a continent with opportunities and possibilities. This initiative 
  •         promises to transform the lives of countless MSMEs and drive economic growth 
  •         across the continent.
  •        AI: A Catalyst for Transformation
  •        In a world rapidly transformed by artificial intelligence (AI), ICSB is on the cusp of 
  •        launching a primary new website that leverages AI. This initiative will revamp our 
  •        membership model and knowledge hub, positioning our site as the premier source of 
  •         knowledge for MSMEs globally. It’s an exciting leap forward in our digital 
  •         transformation journey.


As we approach the new year, let us carry the spirit of innovation, resilience, and collaboration that has defined 2023 into our future endeavors. Together, we are pioneering change, fostering innovation, and empowering small businesses worldwide. Our shared vision of a brighter future for MSMEs continues to drive us forward.


I extend my heartfelt gratitude to each of you, our members, partners, and supporters, for your unwavering dedication to the cause of entrepreneurship and small business. Your passion and commitment have been the driving force behind our achievements.


I wish you and your loved ones a joyful holiday season and a new year filled with prosperity, innovation, and continued success.


With warm regards,

Dr. Ayman ElTarabishy
President & CEO, ICSB

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Farewell to 2023 – Glimpse into 2024

As we bid farewell to 2023, reflecting on the year characterized by challenges and opportunities is essential. The world grappled with new tensions, high energy costs, and the persistence of COVID-19 variants. These difficulties, coupled with the ongoing consequences of the pandemic, urged governments and businesses to seek innovative solutions. Two themes consistently stood out throughout this tumultuous period: resilience and frugality.

Resilience and Frugality in the Face of Adversity

2022, these themes began to emerge, and they remained at the forefront in 2023. The global community recognized that resilience, the ability to adapt to change and withstand disruptions, and frugality, the practice of doing more with less, were indispensable qualities in navigating these uncertain times.


The Role of MSMEs and Humane Entrepreneurship

Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) and the principles of Humane Entrepreneurship emerged as guiding lights in the journey to recovery. Deep-rooted in their local communities, MSMEs leveraged their connections to practice frugal innovation and seek complete recovery.


ICSB Predicted Top Trends of 2023

Despite the challenges, there were bright spots on the horizon. Here are some of the top trends that ICSB proposed that shaped 2023:

1- Digital Transformation Acceleration: The pandemic accelerated digital transformation efforts, with businesses embracing technology for remote work, e-commerce, and operational efficiency.

2- Sustainability and ESG: Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations gained prominence, with businesses recognizing the importance of sustainability and social responsibility.

3- Resilient Supply Chains: Global supply chain vulnerabilities led to a shift toward more resilient and localized supply networks.

4- Entrepreneurship Ecosystems: Governments and organizations prioritized nurturing entrepreneurship ecosystems to support startups and small businesses, fostering innovation and economic growth.

5- Hybrid Work Models: The hybrid work model, combining remote and in-office work, became the norm, requiring businesses to adapt to this new reality.

6- Healthtech and Biotech Innovation: Rapid innovation in healthcare and biotechnology continued to address health challenges through telemedicine, digital health solutions, and biotech advancements.

7- Resurgence of Local Businesses: Consumers rallied behind local businesses, driving demand for unique products and personalized services.


A Glimpse into 2024

While predicting the future remains uncertain, certain principles will continue to guide us. Adaptability, innovation, and sustainability will remain paramount. As we move forward, the lessons learned in 2023 will shape our approach to an ever-evolving world. In embracing change and seizing emerging opportunities, businesses and individuals will chart a course toward a promising future. The resilience of MSMEs and the principles of Humane Entrepreneurship will continue to illuminate the path forward.

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Baku: From the Silk Road to the Entrepreneurship Road

Dr. Ayman ElTarabishy, President & CEO of ICSB and Deputy-Chair at GW School of Business, launched the inaugural plenary session of the SME World Forum Research Day at the esteemed ADA University in Baku, Azerbaijan on November 15, 2023, with a groundbreaking proposal. He introduced a revolutionary concept, marking the next evolution from the historic Silk Road to what he termed “The Entrepreneurship Road.” Dr. ElTarabishy emphasized the significance of honoring our past while boldly stepping into the future. He passionately argued that the Entrepreneurship Road represents this new journey, leading us toward uncharted territories and exciting possibilities.

The Evolution of Baku: Embracing Global Changes

Baku, a city steeped in history and once a crucial node on the ancient Silk Road, is transforming remarkably. It’s emerging as a guiding light on the newly minted “Entrepreneurship Road.” This metamorphosis represents far more than a mere renaming; it’s a deep-rooted shift in perspective, aligning with the ever-evolving global landscape and the myriad of opportunities it presents.

Where the Silk Road was synonymous with trade and the intertwining of diverse cultures, the Entrepreneurship Road encapsulates a more contemporary ethos. It embodies the dynamic and innovative spirit of today’s youth, poised to tackle the unique challenges of our planet. This new path reflects a world where entrepreneurial endeavors are not just about economic gains but also about addressing environmental concerns, social inequalities, and the sustainability of our world.

The Entrepreneurship Road, therefore, is not just a route but a journey towards a more resilient and equitable future. It’s a call to action for the young and old alike to innovate, collaborate, and create solutions for a better world. In Baku, this road is taking shape through initiatives that merge tradition with technology heritage with modernity, creating a model for cities worldwide to follow. With its focus on sustainable development and inclusive growth, this road is paving the way for future generations to thrive. 

Guided by the Stars: The 17 SDGs and ESG

Looking up at the vast night sky, we find a profound reminder that we are accompanied by guiding lights along the Entrepreneurship Road. These are celestial stars, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and vital principles such as Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria. These SDGs, from eradicating poverty to ensuring environmental sustainability, serve as beacons, illuminating our entrepreneurial path with purpose and direction.

Similarly, ESG criteria inject a sense of ethical responsibility into business practices, ensuring that companies are profitable and accountable for their environmental impact and social contributions. As entrepreneurs and innovators travel this road, these guiding stars provide a balanced approach, intertwining economic growth with sustainable and equitable practices.

Together, the SDGs and ESG criteria form a celestial map, helping us navigate the complexities of modern business and ensuring that our entrepreneurial pursuits align with the greater good. They remind us that our endeavors should contribute positively to the planet and its inhabitants, safeguarding resources and opportunities for future generations. As we venture down the Entrepreneurship Road, these goals and principles light our way, ensuring a journey that is not only successful but also sustainable and socially responsible. 

Centering on the Human: ICSB’s Vision

ICSB’s commitment to Humane Entrepreneurship forms the soil of the Entrepreneurship Road, centering on the human element in business. This concept extends beyond traditional business metrics, focusing on nurturing human potential and well-being. It’s a holistic approach where economic success is intertwined with social and environmental responsibility. The Entrepreneurship Road, underpinned by this philosophy, becomes a journey of economic growth, human development, and ethical business practices. Here, the success of entrepreneurial ventures is measured not only by their financial outcomes but also by their impact on people’s lives and the broader society. This road is charting a new course in business, where the ultimate goal is to create a sustainable, inclusive world that values human dignity and well-being at every step.

Sustainability and Circular Economy: Legacy for Future Generations

Sustainability and adopting circular economy principles are fundamental components of the Entrepreneurship Road, especially as it unfolds in Baku. This approach is not just about meeting the needs of the present; it’s a commitment to future generations. In embracing these sustainable practices, Baku sets a precedent for responsible and efficient resource utilization, ensuring that economic growth does not come at the expense of environmental health or social equity.

The circular economy model, which emphasizes resource reuse, recycling, and regeneration, is crucial in this journey. It challenges the traditional linear economy of “take-make-waste” and proposes a system where waste is minimized and resources are continuously cycled back into the economy. This reduces environmental impact and offers economic opportunities for new markets and job creation.

In Baku, integrating these principles into the Entrepreneurship Road is paving the way for a more resilient and sustainable urban development. It’s about creating a city where businesses thrive by innovating to enhance environmental stewardship and social well-being. 

Conclusion: A New Path Forward

The transition from the Silk Road to the Entrepreneurship Road represents a seamless and thrilling evolution in entrepreneurship. This shift marks not just a change in concept but an inspiring new direction, particularly for the youth. The Entrepreneurship Road is more than a mere pathway; it’s a destination with possibilities, shaping a future where young minds are at the forefront of innovation and progress. It’s a journey that emphasizes the importance of nurturing and focusing on the next generation, as they are the ones who will drive us forward on this exciting new road.

Written by:

Dr. Ayman ElTarabishy, President & CEO, ICSB

Contributions by:
Ambassador Oh Joon, Former Korean Ambassador to the UN and the 71st President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

Winslow Sargeant, Immediate Past Chai, ICSB

Vicky Stylianou, Incoming Chair, ICSB, Executive General Manager, Institute of Public Accountants, Australia

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Small Business Horizon November 2023 Issue
AI Revolution and the Future Ahead

In the newest issue of Small Business Horizon Magazine (SBH), we are excited to present a fascinating feature that intersects the evolution of technology with the timeless appeal of music. Artificial intelligence has now reached the realm of cultural nostalgia, reviving the music of The Beatles and John Lennon for the ears of a modern audience.

Latest Magazine Issue: https://issuu.com/aymanelt/docs/sbhnovember2023

This technological masterpiece reflects an unprecedented collaboration between artificial intelligence and the arts. AI, having delved into the rich musical archives of The Beatles and Lennon, has emerged with a creation that marries the band’s and the artist’s signature elements with contemporary flair. By processing their intricate songwriting patterns, distinctive melodies, and harmonies, the AI has managed to produce a song that simultaneously harkens back to the Beatles’ and Lennon’s groundbreaking era and appeals to today’s listeners.

Our latest SBH magazine explores how this synthesis of AI and musical genius not only pays homage to John Lennon’s influential legacy but also signals a new era where technology redefines the boundaries of creative expression. As we reflect on Lennon’s impact, which transcended music and touched upon the themes of peace, love, and social consciousness, this AI endeavor is a powerful testament to his enduring influence.

Join us in this newest issue as SBH delves into innovative developments, celebrating how small businesses and the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem can draw inspiration from such cross-disciplinary innovations. Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy, our esteemed Editor and an advocate for small business dynamism, invites you to explore how the revolutionary spirit of figures like John Lennon continues to inspire and how it can inform the future of small business strategy and innovation.

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